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Mr. CANTOR. I want to thank the gentleman from New Jersey and commend the gentleman from Florida on bringing this bill forward.
Madam Speaker, the bill before us is not about tax rates. Because I think that that issue will be resolved one way or another here shortly in this election. We know that there's a difference between the two sides. Unfortunately, our counterparts on the other side of the aisle think it's very important in this tough economy to raise taxes. We don't believe that, Madam Speaker. The bill before us simply asks the President to give us his plan for replacing the first year of cuts in the sequester.
It has been 126 days since we passed our plan to responsibly replace the sequester with cuts that maintain our fiscal discipline. Our plan controls unchecked government spending and reduces wasteful and duplicative programs. But still there has been no action and no proposal coming from the other side of the Capitol, coming from the other side of the aisle.
It has been 126 days since the President said he would veto our plan. But he has failed to put forward an alternative. And the letter that some of us Republican leaders wrote on July 14 asking the President to engage with us to come and find a bipartisan solution to the sequestration, that letter has gone unanswered.
Madam Speaker, inaction carries a very high risk. Instability and unprecedented political transformation throughout the Middle East, a civil war in Syria, Iran's dogged pursuit of nuclear weapons in support for terrorism, as well as challenges posed by a rising China and geostrategic shifts in the Asia Pacific make maintaining American military preeminence as important as ever. And the deadly and tragic attacks on Ambassador Chris Stevens, Foreign Service Information Management Office Sean Smith, and two other Americans at our consulate in Benghazi, Libya, make clear that Islamic extremist terrorism remains a tremendous threat to the Middle East, the United States, and the international community.
If the cuts in the sequester go forward, they will fundamentally weaken our current and long-term security and our ability to meet challenges we're facing. Implementing these cuts will mean reductions in shipbuilding, aircraft and missiles, shrinking our current force to levels not seen since before World War II. And that means fewer defense-related jobs. According to a study conducted by the Aerospace Industries Association, the job losses will reach 2 million. Let me put that in perspective. The economy added less than 100,000 jobs last month. Worse, more people dropped out of the labor force than were added to it. Under the sequester, unemployment would soar from its current level up to 9 percent, setting back any progress the economy has made. According to the same study, the jobs of more than 200,000 Virginians, my own State, are on the line. A small business in my district called Produce Source Partners, which provides fresh food to military bases, says the sequester threatens the jobs of their 200 employees. Another small company in Virginia, HI-TEST Laboratories, could be forced to reduce their staff by as much as 30 percent. Removing these jobs from the community will shrink the local economy and set back an already underutilized business zone. That same predicament faces hundreds of hardworking men and women in towns from here to California.
Madam Speaker, we are here today asking the President simply to come forward with a plan. We are here today because the minority has failed to work with us to find a solution to prevent these cuts that would hollow out our military and result in massive layoffs.
Madam Speaker, the House has acted. Now we need leadership, Mr. President.
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